Handmade Find - HOMAKO

Los Angeles based designer Yoko Minemura creates playful origami inspired jewelry and accessories out of felt and fabric. Her brand, HOMAKO, is designed to make you happy and I really do think sporting one of these fun pieces would make you smile!

Find HOMAKO on Etsy or connect with Yoko via Flickr.

A Total Knitwit

There's nothing quite as satisfying as making something useful with your own two hands. Well, maybe making something delicious with those hands, but I'm sure you know what I mean!

After knitting up the five (!!!) cowls in my queue this winter, I turned my eye to something a little handier - dishcloths! Alright, I must admit, knitting up dishcloths did make me feel a little grandma-ish at first, but now, now I'm hooked! A super fast project, no endless rows, and at the end, something totally useful.

I chose my yarn while deep in the Valentine's madness of mid-January (well, at least for me) and I am so very very over pink & red at the moment, but I'm sure my love for these brights will return. In the meantime, I've ordered some more yarn (I see why you knitters get obsessed) in neutral ecru and navy. Because, really, one can't have too many dishcloths, right?! Jessica over at Zakka Life is color coding hers - pretty clever (and totally a good excuse to make more).

Dishcloths / Washcloths are a great project for beginning knitters - a short & sweet project where you can practice casting on, binding off, knitting & purling - without subjecting yourself to that endless first scarf which never looks as good as you dreamed! Plus, even with mistakes, you end up with a useful finished object. Pretty great!

Have you been knitting this winter?

Happy Friday!

Eye Candy - Emily Green

Emily Green's watercolour dots were popping up all over Pinterest yesterday, and I simply couldn't resist sharing them with you here!

Based in Melbourne, Emily creates lovely handmade goods and art bursting with colour and pattern. You can find out more about Emily on her site, purchase art & goods here or here, and follow along with her bloggy adventures.

Send Pretty Mail #10 - Grey + Gold

I've wanted to try the whole pencil eraser as a rubber stamp thing for like ever.

My Quill & Fox notecards came complete with lovely grey envelopes so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to add a little gold (or a lot of gold, as the case may be).

Of course, one thing led to another and my simple polka dots wanted block-y friends. And then, I couldn't not add a little washi tape, right? And then, I just couldn't resist sticking on a few sequins - just for fun. Classic case of if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie-itis!

Inside the envelope, with that clever notecard, I'll slip a few kirigami paper cuts and a sprinkling of gold sequins. Remember when people used to send fancy confetti in their cards?

Have you sent any pretty mail lately?

Want to receive some pretty mail in YOUR mailbox? Send me a note at info@omiyage.ca with your mailing address and a little something about yourself. I'll be making a list and choosing new friends to send mail to each month. And don't worry if you don't hear back from me right away - February & March are already full thanks to Mail Swaps.

Pom Pom Pom

It's a grey rainy morning here after a long do-nothing holiday weekend. The kind of day where you just want to pour an extra cup of coffee and snuggle in. Perhaps dig into a good book or pop a favourite friend into the DVD player and knit the day away.

But, alas, it is Tuesday and your inbox is overflowing and there are orders to pack and new stock to organize and and and...

This day desperately needs something both colourful and snuggly, something that just can't be taken seriously to start the day on a high note. Pom poms (pom pons?) are clearly the cure for what ails you today! Or at least the cure for what ails me... but seriously, don't you want to feel your toes sink into that rug?

Happy Tuesday!

What Valentine's Day Looked Like

Pretty flowers, sparkly hearts, sweet treats & handmade cards. A peek at our Valentine's Day. Pretty sweet indeed!

To be honest, we're not huge lovers of Valentine's Day - we met in Japan, where Valentine's Day is a bit confusing as women give gifts to men on February 14th and then men return the favour a month later on White Day. Women tend to give gifts to ALL the men in their lives and the men often dread it. I used to have male students who would do their best to avoid being in the office / at their desk on Valentine's Day so that they wouldn't have to buy gifts for ALL the ladies in the office on March 14th. Oh the romance!

And then, you see, the Brazilian version of Valentine's Day doesn't happen until June (or is July? I can never remember).

So, we get all confused and turned around and not quite sure what to do when this holiday rolls around. But, we actually met on February 14th, so we celebrate this day for that reason. And, really, any excuse for an overload of pink & red & hearts & chocolate & borderline tackiness is alright by me!

Our celebration involved a quiet meal, good conversation and decadent dessert - Brazilian Pao de Mel - mini honey cakes filled with doce de leite (dulce de leche / milk caramel) and dipped in chocolate.

Oh, and those sparkly hearts? A super simple 5 minute DIY - just cut hearts (or any shape) out of glitter tape and stick to a toothpick. Voila - instant fanciness!

How did you celebrate? Or are you just delighted that we can move on from all the love-themed stuff?

Handmade Find: Mrs Eliot Books

Oh you washi tape fanatics - this handmade find is a treat for you! Francesca Iannoccone creates lovely stationery and housewares under the name Mrs Eliot Books. Her art prints are full of playful colour, patterns and shapes, but I think you'll be enamoured with her washi tape inspired housewares - like trays, cutting boards and cushions. You can even dress your iPhone in a washi tape case. So fun, right?!

You can shop Mrs Eliot Books here, via Etsy or Society6. Connect with Francesca over on her blog, Facebook page or see what she's loving lately on Pinterest.

Happy Pancake Tuesday!

Forget Mardi Gras, Pancake Tuesday's where it's at! Why bother with all the scandalous bead-collecting, when you can put on your stretchiest pants and overindulge in simple deliciousness? Okay, truth be told, if we were in Brazil, we'd probably be all over the spectacle of Carnaval, but since we're not, we're all about the pancakiest holiday around.

We love pancakes around here... actually, we're pretty big fans of anything kinda pancake-ish. Crepes, tortillas, pitas... if it's round, flat & delicious, we're in! We probably eat pancakes once a week and have to say, once you start making them from scratch, you'll never reach for the box again!

There are a multitude of pancake recipes... from simple to extravagant... but for today, we thought we'd share one of our favourites. Pannekoeken - or Dutch pancakes - are kind of like a crepe but a little thicker and chewier and, our favourite part, easier to make! Bonus - you probably already have the ingredients on hand.

Pannekoeken - Dutch Pancakes
Makes approximately six 21cm / 8.5" pancakes.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp baking powder

Whisk together all ingredients. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. 

Heat your favourite frypan over medium heat. Grease with a small amount of oil. If you're using a nonstick pan, this initial greasing should be fine. If you're using a stainless steel pan, brush on a little more oil between pancakes.

Ladle approximately 1/3 cup batter into the frypan and swirl to cover the bottom. (If batter is too thick to spread evenly, add more milk.) Cook for a few minutes until bottom of pancake is golden. Flip and cook on the other side. 

Repeat until all batter is cooked. 

Pannekoeken are like the blank canvas of pancakes - since they're not sweet, you can choose whether to fill them with sweet or savoury fillings. They're delicious with berries, yoghurt and fruit. Nutella and banana is downright decadent. Or try ham and cheese if you're in the mood for something that isn't sweet.

As for us, our favourite filling is simple cinnamon sugar. Mix together 2 Tbsp brown sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon. Spread the hot pancake with butter, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar, roll & enjoy. We dare you not to eat them all fresh from the pan... we hardly ever make it to the table with this one! 

Happy Pancake Tuesday & happy pancake making!

Will you be eating pancakes today? 

Send Pretty Mail #8/9 - Origami Heart Cards

Here's a sweet but simple way to use those origami hearts you folded yesterday. You did fold some, right? These are the second set of my cards for The Stationery Place's Handmade Valentine Swap. I showed you the first ones I made a little earlier this week.

Glue your origami hearts onto a blank card and add a Valentine's message. I stamped mine - if don't have stamps, you can easily just write it on, or skip it altogether.

Two hearts are better than one!

Of course a little treat - like some origami paper & instructions to fold-your-own hearts - is always a welcome surprise when you're sending pretty mail.

Why use a regular envelope when you can slip your handmade card into a middy bitty bag. Heart stickers double as address labels - but are way cuter!

How about you? Will you be sending valentines this year?

A Valentine's Day Giveaway!

Remember when Valentine's Day was all about the celebration of all kinds of love - not just love of the romantic variety? When you'd hand out handwritten cards to everyone in the class and craft up an extra special one for your parents? It was celebration of hearts & pink & red & more than a little bit tacky. It was pretty fantastic, right?

This year, we're loving love - all kinds of love - and we love you, our customers & readers, so here's one way we're showing it. On Valentine's Day, we'll randomly choose someone from our mailing list to send an extra-special Valentine's Paper Pack. Simply sign up for our newsletter (we send them out 1-2 times a month with special deals, new product news and other fun stuff) and you're automatically entered. 

If you're already signed up, you're already entered!

Happy Monday! Have a love-ly day!

Make Love, Make Origami Hearts

via MastaAzumarek
Every year, when Valentine's Day rolls around again, I tell you to make origami hearts. So why should this year be any different?

Tomorrow on the blog, we'll share a simple way to use those hearts - in the meantime, you might want to consider making an origami heart garland or heart cupcake toppers.

What are you waiting for? Get folding!

Send Pretty Mail #6/7 - (Not So) Classic Valentine

Finding your mailbox filled with love-ly greetings from strangers all over seems like a pretty fantastic plan, right? That's what I thought, so I joined The Stationery Place's Handmade Valentine Swap.

It also seemed like a great way to keep my Send Pretty Mail momentum building rather than let it get dampened by the February blahs.

Here's a look at one of the styles of Valentines I sent out - inspired by classic handmade valentines, heart-shaped doilies and all...

but fancied up with a bit of a washi tape collage!

Of course, the envelopes needed a little love too. Nothing a little doodle can't fix. A big heart sticker makes a great address label!

Decorating the backs of the envelopes with washi tape creates a big impact... and let's you show off that tape collection you're hoarding!

Want to receive some pretty mail in YOUR mailbox? Send me a note at info@omiyage.ca with your mailing address and a little something about yourself. I'll be making a list and choosing new friends to send mail to each month. And don't worry if you don't hear back from me right away - February & March are already full thanks to Mail Swaps.

DIY Fashionable Hearts

Heart Sweater - Design, Dining & Diapers  / Heart Tote - Say Yes To Hoboken
Heart Elbow Patches - Honestly WTF / Heart Print Jeans - my little secrets
Don't limit your love of hearts to Valentine's Day. Hearts don't have to be cute - they can be fashionable! Craft up one of these DIY heart projects and you can wear your heart on your sleeve (literally) all year round!

A Celebration Sale!

There's nothing like hitting a milestone to start the week off on a high note - and nothing like a bit of a celebration to make it even more fun! We woke up to 2000 Likes on our Facebook page - so a little sale seemed like the best way to thank all those likers. 

Want in on this deal? Simply use code FB2000 to save 20% off your entire Omiyage purchase! It's perfect timing to stock up on pretty pink & red supplies for Valentine's Day.

Code is valid for 2 days only (February 4 - 5, 2013) and cannot be combined with any other offer. No rain checks or price adjustments available.

DIY Glitter Tape Cake Topper

On the weekend, I made the yummiest 4-layer chocolate raspberry cake and topped it off with a miniature glitter tape bunting for extra fanciness. Since I can't have you all over for a slice of cake, I can at least share the simple steps to make your own glitter tape cake topper!

You'll need:

  1. Trim paper straws to the desired height. I simply cut one straw in half.
  2. Cut equal-length strips of glitter tape - mine were about 6cm / 2.5" long.
  3. Fold each tape strip in half. Remove plastic backing. Attach to baker's twine, ensuring twine is placed in the crease before sticking the tape to itself.
  4. If desired, cut a small triangle out the bottom of each glitter tape strip.
  5. Attach twine ends to paper straws - I simply wrapped the twine around a few times and then tied.
  6. Admire your handiwork - just add cake!
Here's what the topper looks like on a real-life cake (or rather, two real-life cakes):

One of my favourite things about adding a cake topper or cupcake flags is that they're a really pretty way of keeping the plastic wrap from messing with your icing when you need to place your cake in the fridge or take it to go. Cute & clever, that's how we like it!

I've never been a huge cake fan - but one of my goals is to be able to make a great looking (and tasting) layer cake. Do you have a favourite kind of cake to bake? Or do you prefer to buy a cake when a special occasion rolls around?